One Sunday I made the mistake of teaching on John 16:33:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (emphasis mine).
Immediately after the closing prayer, one family went out into the sub-zero weather to find that they had left the van’s lights on and their battery was dead. Another family discovered their four-year-old had gotten into their van, turned it on and backed over a parking bumper. The worship leader went home to find her husband gone with a note telling her he wanted a divorce. That night the church’s hot-water heating pipes froze up and the parsonage’s furnace broke down. A parishioner offered to thaw out the church’s pipes with a blow torch and caught the building’s sub-flooring on fire. Then things got worse!
The next Sunday, I promised to never, ever to speak on that passage again. Just kidding about never again speaking on Jesus’ promise. Actually, it was the perfect assurance that Jesus would be with the congregation in the trouble they would soon be facing. And “trouble” seems to be life’s default setting: flat tires, kidney stones, IRS audits . . . the list goes on and on.
So, I’m assuming you and I will be facing some trouble this week. But Christ offers us “peace” and “overcoming” victory this week as well. That’s why Paul can write:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).
So, I hope you’re having a “but not” week! We will have trouble, but not defeat!
Copyright © 2009 James N. Watkins
From Squeezing Good Out of Bad. Read free excerpts.
Photo from MorgueFile